A major Chelsea art gallery is set to establish a presence in the rich arts scene emerging in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Luhring Augustine is moving art it doesn't have room to display at its 24th St. Manhattan gallery to a new 12,000 square-foot storage space in Bushwick, and will use 2,000 square feet as an exhibition space.
At the suggestion of several employees living in Bushwick, the gallery's owners bought the warehouse at Knickerbocker St. and Ingram St. in February for $2 million. The gallery had been looking for a new storage location to replace a Long Island City warehouse used for storage and to show clients oversize works.
“We’re hoping the neighborhood’s hipness will work to our advantage,” said the senior director of Luhring Augustine, Natalia Sacasa. “There are a lot of restaurants in the area that are attracting people from Manhattan, so we’ll be doing extended hours on Fridays, that sort of thing.”
Bushwick is currently home to numerous smaller, artist-run spaces. Some local gallery owners hope that Luhring Augustine’s move is a sign that more Manhattan art galleries — and their wealthy patrons — will be crossing the East River and settling in North Brooklyn.
“As an art dealer, my hope is that the larger art buying public will see Chelsea's gamble and take on an air of confidence about Bushwick art,” said Sean Alday, director of the 950 Hart Gallery. “Our gallery's mission is to provide a loving and supportive creative environment for our artists. We have shown so many great artists and I hope that blue-chip collectors can take time out of their busy schedule to revel in the unbridled creativity our neighbors and friends.”
Ali Ha, owner of the Factory Fresh gallery, agrees. Before moving to Bushwick, she operated a gallery on the Lower East Side, and says that clients she developed there have followed her to Bushwick to patronize her new gallery.
“I think as far as selling art goes, and getting the art world out to see all these great things, the more reasons they have to come to the neighborhood, the more likely it is that they’ll come out,” said Ali.
While no other Chelsea galleries seem to be following suit and expanding into Bushwick, a number of arts organizations have moved into the neighborhood in the past year. Stephen Truax, an area artist and writer for the BushwickBK online newspaper, pointed out that two non-profits working to promote emerging artists, Momenta Art and Nurture Art, have recently moved into the same building on 56 Bogart Street.
"Young artists are moving to Bushwick and buying real estate because it's affordable, and then developing their own community," said Truax. "As they do that, they naturally pull larger institutions and galleries with them, like Momenta, like Nurture, and like Luhring Augustine."
But not everybody thinks it’s a good idea for Bushwick to develop in the direction of art hubs like Chelsea.
“I think having a lot of commercial galleries in Bushwick is not a good thing for the artists of Bushwick,” said Paddy Johnson, an arts columnist for L Magazine who blogs at Art Fag City. “If the commercial spaces come, they are going to push the rents up and you’re going to end up with another situation where artists are pushed out of their homes.”
Luhring Augustine is careful to mention that its intention was not to trailblaze a new commercial art district, but rather to try something new while finding a suitable space to store their art. Senior director Natalia Sacasa said the gallery's focus will remain on the its Chelsea space.
“We’re going to make a big effort to bring people out to Bushwick, but we don’t know who will come out yet,” said Sacasa. “It’s been a long time since there’s been a broader art world attention paid to the outer boroughs.”
The first exhibit planned for Luhring Augustine's Bushwick space will open on November 5, and will feature work from video artist Charles Atlas.